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Unions Representing 7,500 Paraeducators are Outraged at Paraeducator Bill Dying in Committee

CT Paraeducator Coalition
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Paraeducator leaders with AFT Connecticut, CSEA SEIU Local 2001, AFSCME Council 4, MEUI/SEIU Local 506, and UAW Region 9A made the following statements in response to House Bill 6881, legislation that invests in students by investing in paraeducators, dying in the Appropriations Committee:

Shellye Davis, President of the Hartford Federation of Paraeducators, AFT Local 2221 & paraeducator at Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School (ELAMS):

Parents, education advocates and school administrators understand that the work of paraeducators has never been more important. Students are still struggling to recover from the shortcomings of remote learning and the social-emotional impacts of the pandemic. They rely on us to be a stable force and provide additional support to reinforce instruction and close the learning gaps exacerbated by COVID-19.

H.B. 6881 provides an urgently needed solution and a real opportunity for state lawmakers to deliver what kids need. Our students can’t afford to wait for the long overdue investments it would make in improving their learning experience.

Cynthia Ross-Zweig, President of CSEA SEIU Local 2001’s Paraeducator Council & paraeducator in New Fairfield:

There is no question that our schools are in crisis. Our students are in crisis. Our paraeducators are in crisis. The fight for adequate staffing and a living wage for paraeducators is far from over. We will no longer be overlooked. 

There is also no question that H.B. 6881 is part of the solution we need in order to address the 1,300 paraeducator vacancies statewide - a staffing shortage that is directly impacting the learning outcomes of our children. 

Finally, there is no question that Connecticut can afford it. We have a historic surplus in the billions and the political handcuffs that is the constitutional spending cap should not prevent us from making the necessary investments we need for our students.

Hyclis Williams, President of AFSCME Local 3429, New Haven Paraprofessionals:

While we’re disappointed that the bill didn’t get called today, we are not giving up the fight for paraeducators and the students we serve. We will be at the Capitol and speaking to every legislator from here until the end of session so they understand why paraeducator support is critically needed in Connecticut. 

Lawmakers consistently have overlooked our work. It’s past time for paraeducators to get what they deserve — recognition of their hard work and dedication to student learning and success with a living wage, affordable health care, retirement security and a voice at the table when it comes to their students.

We call on legislative leaders and Gov. Ned Lamont to do the right thing. Consider the important work we do and support the contents of this bill. Make a positive change for the betterment of our students while the power is in your hands.

Carl Chisem, President of MEUI Local 506:

HB 6881 legislation addressed the current staffing and retention crisis for our paraeducators across the state of Connecticut. We must find a way to amend today's shortcomings. Our paraeducators deserve the respect of a living wage, the ability to retire with respect and dignity after years of service, and to afford healthcare for their families. Paraeducators step up for our students every single day; it is now time for Governor Lamont and our state legislators to do the same.

Craig Smith, President of UAW Local 376:

H.B. 6881 would have addressed the many needs of paraeducators, and helped to attract and retain qualified professionals to ensure that every child in Connecticut succeeds. At a time when school districts across the state are struggling to support students post-pandemic and with more than 1,300 open paraeducator positions, it is the needs of students that have once again been pushed aside due to this bill dying in the Appropriations Committee today.

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The Connecticut Paraeducator Coalition includes AFT Connecticut, CSEA SEIU Local 2001, AFSCME Council 4, MEUI/SEIU Local 506, and UAW Region 9A, and represents nearly 7,500 paraeducators across Connecticut.